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Twenty-one-year-old Richard James Nava and his younger brother, nineteen-year-old Christian Joseph Nava, appeared before Judge Larry Herman in Justice Court on Wednesday, September 21st. Both young men face felony charges in the September 17th shooting of Levi Minard.

According to court affidavits, at approximately 2:50 am September 17th, Billings Police officers were dispatched to the 3700 block of Madison to investigate a shooting. Upon arrival at the residence located at 148 Adams, Officer Dave Cardillo observed a male (Levi Minard) on his back near the stairway to the entrance of the house. Although efforts were made to assist Minard, who had suffered a gunshot wound to the chest, he later was pronounced dead at Deaconess Billings Clinic.

Witnesses told police officers that there had been a disturbance inside the house between Christian, a juvenile and another person. At about this time, Minard returned home and saw that Christian was arguing with a friend of his, so he told Christian to leave. Witnesses said Christian got belligerent with Minard and refused to leave. At that point, Minard got in a physical altercation with Christian and the juvenile. Following this, numerous witnesses stated Christian pulled out a cell phone, called someone, and loudly stated something to the effect of , “It’s on! Bring backup and bring a gun!” Witnesses then heard Christian making threats about harming Minard, to the effect of “You’re gonna get it.”

Richard Nava arrived, just a few minutes after Christian made the phone call. Witnesses said the two brothers conversed with each other and then Richard allegedly said he was going to get a gun. Both brothers left together, at that time, but returned approximately twenty to thirty minutes later.

Witnesses informed the officers that Richard appeared agitated and was making comments to some of them that he was carrying a gun. According to several accounts, Minard was standing in the yard when Christian and Richard returned. Minard began walking toward Richard, who got off the bicycle he was riding and began walking toward Minard. There were no words exchanged and without any warning whatsoever, Richard pulled out a gun and shot Minard once in the chest.

Witnesses stated to the officers that Richard then walked over to Minard, who was now on his back, stood over him and said something to the effect of, “I told you I’d be back.” At that point, witnesses said the scene became chaotic and many of the people present ran from the scene.

While the Billings Police officers were still investigating the scene of the crime, Billings dispatch received a call from an anonymous caller, who stated one of the suspects was hiding at 322 Monroe. Officers went to the residence there and found Christian Nava, hiding inside. Although the police immediately started to search for Richard, they did not find him until the following afternoon, nearly twelve hours after the crime had been committed.

Christian Nava is charged with felony deliberate homicide by accountability (weapon enhanced penalty.) His older brother, Richard, is charged with felony deliberate homicide (weapon enhanced penalty.) If found guilty, Christian Nava and Richard Nava will face life imprisonment, or not less than ten years or more than one hundred years, and for use of a firearm enhanced punishment of imprisonment from two to ten years consecutive to any other penalty imposed.

Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney Ed Zink asked for Christian Nava to be held on $500,00 bond and bond to be set at $750,000 for Richard. Christian’s court-appointed attorney argued that bond should only be set at $10,000. She contended that as Christian has lived his entire life in Billings and has family here, he poses a minimal flight risk. Bonnie Harrington, Christian’s grandmother, had agreed to have him live with her. Christian’s attorney also made the point that, although Christian was not employed at the time of the incident, he has employment opportunity with his father, working nights at a janitorial service. Attorney Schwarz also requested that the $10,000 bond be continued due to the fact that already there is a $10,00 bond out of City court for a prior criminal conviction, for which Christian was on probation. Schwarz also promised that there would be “an aggressive defense mounted in this case.”

Deputy Attorney Zink responded by stating that this argument simply demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of the seriousness of the accusations and consequences.

Judge Herman set bond at $500,00 and then turned his attention to Richard Nava.

Deputy Attorney Zink asked for higher bond on Richard for several reasons, one of which is Nava’s history of violence. Richard Nava was federally convicted on felony firearms violations. According to Zink, RIchard Nava was discharged from prison in either May or June of this year. SInce then, Richard had been involved in multiple Billings Police Department investigations. After the shooting, RIchard hid out from the police for twelve hours, during which the BPD received numerous reports of witnesses being threatened and intimidated by Richard Nava.

Richard Nava’s attorney argued that by statute, bond must not be oppressive and asked the court to take into consideration his youth and minimal criminal history. She also pointed out the fact that the Deputy County Attorney had not presented any witnesses to the alleged threats and intimidation.

Judge Herman set bond at $500,00 for RIchard Nava, as well. Due to the felony nature of the alleged crimes, Judge Herman turned both cases over to District Judge Ingrid Gustafson. The hearing is set for 9:30 am, this Friday, September 23rd.



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